A review by Stuart Brogden
One thing sadly lacking for many people in today’s culture – knowledge and discipline for sound financial planning and practice. This book by Emily G. Stroud promises itself as a Bible-based guide to “10 secrets to move from fearful insecurity to confident control.” These “secrets” are examined in the 10 chapters.
While the book does provide competent but basic counsel on myriad issues across the financial spectrum, it is woefully lacking in being sound in the way the author uses Scripture and recommends certain people. Not many should be teachers; this book would be much better if Mrs. Stroud had focused on financial issues and left theology out of it.
The introduction gives the reader high hopes, as our author tells us money doesn’t give us peace but is merely a tool, there is hope in Christ, God blesses people differently, and we can learn to use money wisely and have a more peaceful and fruitful life. In chapter 1, we read, “Most important, we all need a biblical foundation to understand the importance of putting our knowledge into action. (page 20)” This chapter is devoted to the idea that one needs a professional to worry about out money as we won’t. Several of the concepts described herein are basic and do not require a professional: budgeting, charitable giving, short-term savings. Others are well served by having another provide counsel: insurance, investments, mortgages, retirement planning. It’s a sad reality that so many in this rich country retire with not much more than the coerced plan known as Social Security.
Chapter 2 is titled Cash is King (or Queen) and provides solid counsel on monthly budgeting and short-term savings. If one has no idea how to begin financial disciplines and wants to begin, this chapter is a valuable resource. The next chapter is on giving and here our author shows why she should have avoided bringing her religious views into the book. When she mentions tithing, there’s no question in her mind whether or not it’s a New Covenant practice – only whether one should tithe on gross or net income and whether splitting your tithe between your church and another ministry is robbing God (page 55). She quotes “Mother Teresa” on page 54 with nothing to indicate this wretch was serving demons. Half of page 57 is filled up by a quote from Rick Warren, blabbing about how good it feels to be generous. This pastor (so-called) bases his theology on human phycology, leading many down the path to his theological therapeutic deism he calls Christianity. And on the following page she says people ought to “consider automating their charitable giving and tithing by setting up automatic transfers from your checking account or debit card each month. Then expect God to show up. Wait and see if the rest of your bills still get paid.”
Saints – giving is to be an act of worship, not some trite activity reduced to a bill that is to be paid, as mindlessly as possible.
The end of this chapter brings a challenge to “be the change this world needs” with an exhortation to “remember the wise words of Malachi,” as she then quotes Malachi 3:10 (page 60). Sigh. I’ve heard it said that one’s theology affects the balance of one’s life. This was in observation of how Woodrow Wilson was attracted to world government by Darby’s system of theology. Chapter 10, God Will Provide, ends with Jeremiah 29:11 with no context or application. It hangs there as if anyone can directly appropriate that as a personal promise from God.
Emily Stroud needs to leave her confused theology out of her work if she wants to of good service to all people. There is good, basic financial planning advice in this book. If the reader needs to begin taking responsibility for his money, this book can be very useful. Do not look to it for counsel from God’s Word, as she has shown she needs to learn much before she can be trusted in this arena.